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Landslides

, Volume 6, Issue 3, pp 209–223 | Cite as

The 12 May Wenchuan earthquake-induced landslide lakes: distribution and preliminary risk evaluation

  • Peng Cui
  • Ying-yan Zhu
  • Yong-shun Han
  • Xiao-qing Chen
  • Jian-qi Zhuang
Original Paper

Abstract

The Wenchuan earthquake, measured at M s 8.0 according to the China Earthquake Administration, occurred at 14:28 on 12 May 2008 in the Sichuan Province of China. It brought overwhelming destruction to eight provinces and cities. Landslides and rock avalanches triggered by the earthquake produced 257 landslide lakes which were distributed along the fault rupture zone and river channels. The authors traveled to the disaster zone immediately after the earthquake to examine some of the features of the debris dams and performed a quick evaluation of the potential for outburst of earthquake-induced landslide lakes for the purpose of disaster relief. The preliminary analysis indicated that the landslide lakes could be classified as those exhibiting extremely high risk, medium risk, and low risk according to field observations and remote sensing, to determine material composition, dam structure, dam height, maximum water storage capacity, and size of the population potentially affected area. The failure risk of 21 debris dams were evaluated as follows: one dam with an extremely high danger risk, seven dams with a high danger, five dams with a medium danger, and eight dams of low danger. More concern was given to the Tangjiashan Lake and different scenarios for the potential sudden failure of its dam were assessed. The risk evaluation result was accepted in full, by the earthquake disaster relief office. A successful emergency dam treatment for risk reduction was planned, based on our assessments, and these measures were quickly carried out. According to this research, the earthquake destabilized the surrounding mountains, resulting in a prolonged geohazard for the area. Landslides and debris flows will continue to develop for at least 5 to 10 years after the Wenchuan earthquake and will produce additional dammed lakes. Recommendations and plans for earthquake–landslide lake mitigation were proposed, based on past successful practices.

Keywords

Wenchuan earthquake Landslide lake Flood outburst Risk evaluation 

Notes

Acknowledgments

This research was supported by State Key Fundamental Research Program project (2008CB425802), and the Knowledge Innovation Project of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (No. KZCX2-YW-302). The authors acknowledge the contributions of Prof. Fangqiang Wei, Prof. Siming He, Prof. Yong You, and Mr. Zhan-lu Li for their involvement in the field investigations and thanks to the Prof. Zunlan Chen and Prof. Xiaogang Zhang for their discussion on the earthquake lakes grading. The authors also appreciate Ms. Heidi D. Stenner, Exponent, USA, for her kind help in revising the manuscript.

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peng Cui
    • 1
    • 2
  • Ying-yan Zhu
    • 1
    • 2
  • Yong-shun Han
    • 3
  • Xiao-qing Chen
    • 1
    • 2
  • Jian-qi Zhuang
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.The Key Laboratory of Mountain Hazards and Earth Surface ProcessCASChengduChina
  2. 2.Institute of Mountain Hazards and EnvironmentCASChengduPeople’s Republic of China
  3. 3.Hunan University of Science and TechnologyXiangtanChina

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